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Verdict: 
Fairly priced and very well made mid-power front light that will suit commuters
Weight: 
93g

The Micro Drive 500XL follows in Lezyne's tradition for making high-quality aluminium cased front lights that are easy to use and perform well. However, while it could be a good option for many people, Lezyne makes even better models that significantly improve on its weak points without costing much more.

  • Pros: High build quality, quick recharge time, effective Day Flash mode
  • Cons: Low run-times, better options from Lezyne for not much more

Build

There's no arguing that first impressions of the Lezyne are very positive. It is very nicely made, with a beautifully finished CNC-machined aluminium case and large rubber end plug. This protects the built-in usb stick recharging point, which means there's no need for cables – you simply plug it straight into any usb charger. The light beam itself comes courtesy of two hi-powered LEDs, and there's a very sturdy silicone rubber strap for attaching it to the handlebar.

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For £40 (and many retailers sell it much cheaper), it's a very classy bit of kit with lots of well-thought-out details, such as the mounting strap being bolted to the light case, meaning no faffing around with either O-rings or screwdrivers. While rubber straps might not be everyone's cup of tea, this is simple to use and, crucially, holds the light in position very securely, even on skinny 25.4mm bars.

Lezyne says the Micro Drive 500XL comes in at 118g, although we measured it at just 93g. In either case, while it's not necessarily the lightest front light on the market, its performance to weight ratio is still pretty good. And let's face it, at this kind of budget the target market is commuters, who aren't so bothered about saving a few grams absolutely everywhere.

Performance

Switching the Micro Drive 500XL on involves holding down the rubberised button on the top of its case, with each subsequent push cycling through the options. There are nine settings in all, ranging from the full 500-lumen 'Overdrive' to the barely-there 15-lumen 'Femto'. Run-times vary from one hour for the most powerful, to 35 hours for the least. However, probably the most useful settings will be Blast mode (300 lumens/1hr 45mins run-time) or Enduro (150 lumens/3hr 30mins run-time). There are also two 75-lumen flash settings (14hr run-time) and a 75-lumen pulse setting (13hr).

> Buyer's Guide: The best 2018 front lights for cycling

The Micro Drive 500XL shares some features with the Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL we tested recently, so it faces the same criticism that cycling through setting selections on the go is a bit of a chore. However, I would say that with this 500-lumen model being aimed more at urban riders, it's possible that its users might not need to change settings quite so often, and the Race Mode (which alternates between just 'Overdrive' and 'Economy') is particularly useful on a typical commute.

With a potential 500 lumens to play with, the Lezyne's beam is decent, especially considering its size. It's certainly better than the similarly specced and priced Cateye Volt 500XC. Particularly effective is the Micro Drive 500XL's consistent and smooth illumination pattern right across its full beam width. There are no ridges, stripes or concentric rings here – just nice, clear light from the centre to where it starts to fade at the beam edge. The beam is wide enough to illuminate the road sides, too.

Day Flash and weatherproofing

Aside from head-on vision, another smart detail is that Lezyne has machined a little half moon shape in the case edge each side of the lens, meaning the Micro Drive 500XL can be seen from the side. It's not a big deal, but it might help people to spot you.

Talking of other road users, Lezyne has also created a very effective Day Flash setting, which uses the full 500 lumens and offers 7hr 30mins of continued use. As most cyclists know only too well, broad daylight is no guarantee that anybody else is going to see you, but the Micro Drive 500XL's Day Flash should be enough to get you noticed. If it doesn't, I don't know what else will.

When it comes to weatherproofing, the Micro Drive 500XL has IPX7 levels of water resistance, meaning it will withstand almighty downpours. Thanks to the hefty rubber bung that protects its usb recharging point, it even withstood a fairly aggressive shower test, too. For anything short of underwater cycling, it'll be fine.

Criticisms

But that leads me to one small area of potential improvement – and this is something that applies to many cycle light manufacturers: where to put the charging point's rubber bung while charging. The bung on the Micro Drive 500XL is plenty big enough to remain obvious when removed, but it's still possible to knock it off a desk or lose it under the sofa in the course of the time it takes to fully recharge. Even car designers have worked out somewhere convenient to place the fuel cap for the minute or two it takes to refill.

Then, let's look at the light's run-times, because one hour on the brightest setting seems pretty low and reinforces the suggestion that this might be a good commuting product but not much more. Admittedly, the two-hour recharge time is nice and quick, but with only 60 minutes of ultimate power at your fingertips, you're not going to be tempted to venture too long or too far into the dark.

In summary, then, the Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL is a very well made light with decent performance and at a good price. However, with only a £17 hike in RRP, you could have the Lezyne Lite Drive 800XL, which comes with more power and longer run-times.

Verdict

Fairly priced and very well made mid-power front light that will suit commuters

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Lezyne Micro Drive 500XL

Size tested: 500 lumens

Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

My opinion is that this is a light aimed at commuters and people who will spend a relatively short or set time riding at night.

Lezyne says: "Multi-purpose performance LED cycling light. Compact, durable and heat-dissipating CNC machined aluminum construction. Ultrahigh-output LEDs delivering up to 500 lumens. Optional Overdrive Race Mode toggles between Overdrive and Economy modes only. Mode Memory function returns to selected mode after turning off. Enhanced MOR (Maximum Optical Reflection) lens with built-in side visibility. Integrated cable-free recharging USB stick. Versatile strap securely mounts to all standard bar shapes, including aero bars. Advanced Li-Poly battery for superior run-time."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

Max lumens: 500

Weight: 93g (Lezyne claims 118g)

Max run-time: 35 hours (in Femto mode)

Recharge time: 2 hours

Colours: Silver / Black

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well made and sturdily built.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
8/10

Almost too simple – with nine different available modes, cycling through them all became a bit annoying.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
9/10

Very easy but surprisingly secure rubber clamp.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
10/10

Stood up to everything I threw at it.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
4/10

Not particularly impressive – only an hour's use at full power. Even on the second setting – 300 lumens – it still only offers 1hr 45mins of use.

Rate the light for performance:
 
7/10

Pretty good beam strength and shape. On a par with the best rivals at this price/power.

Rate the light for durability:
 
8/10

Very hardy.

Rate the light for weight:
 
8/10

At less than 100g, it's nothing to complain about.

Rate the light for value:
 
7/10

It compares well with rival brands; in comparison with some of its own sibling products, not quite so good.

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It performed well and would be a good main or second light for commuters with relatively short journeys.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

General ease of use and build quality. Race Mode – cycling between just two modes – and Day Flash are both very useful, too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Chunky rubber bung for usb charging point has to be stored safely when light is recharging.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Well priced or on a par with rivals' products. Not quite so well priced in comparison to Lezyne's own Lite Drive 800XL.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? No

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Although the Micro Drive 500XL could be a good option for many riders and particularly commuters, Lezyne makes even better models that don't cost much more but which significantly improve on the Micro Drive 500XL's weaknesses.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'0  Weight: 16 stone

I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29  My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure

14 comments

Avatar
deanj [9 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

Maybe I just haven't had much luck with Lezyne, but my impression is that their lights look like they provide good value, but that they fall apart after not very long. I've had a MacroDrive which stopped working after not much more than a year, a rear Zecto which completely failed on a ride on unlit roads after a few weeks (so, potentially fatal), and more recently another MacroDrive has failed after less than a year. I'm not buying Lezyne again. I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences.

Avatar
Simon E [3844 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
deanj wrote:

Maybe I just haven't had much luck with Lezyne, but my impression is that their lights look like they provide good value, but that they fall apart after not very long.

Perhaps you've been unfortunate. I have had 5 Lezyne front lights - Mini, Mini XL, Power Drive, Zecto, 800XL. Of these only the 1st generation Mini let me down - it wouldn't charge due to weak pins in the USB charge port that bent easily (I wasn't alone. TBH output was a bit weedy and run times were short). The Zecto is on my wife's bike so only gets used for very short trips but it seems a good be-seen-by light.

The others have been used for commuting etc in all weathers, the Power Drive (400L max) is on its 6th winter. The 800XL, bought with Micro Drive rear in summer 2017, and has been reliable so far.

I tried the Femto pair but I don't find them bright enough to rely on, even in well-lit streets.

Avatar
madcarew [1002 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:
deanj wrote:

Maybe I just haven't had much luck with Lezyne, but my impression is that their lights look like they provide good value, but that they fall apart after not very long.

Perhaps you've been unfortunate. I have had 5 Lezyne front lights - Mini, Mini XL, Power Drive, Zecto, 800XL. Of these only the 1st generation Mini let me down - it wouldn't charge due to weak pins in the USB charge port that bent easily (I wasn't alone. TBH output was a bit weedy and run times were short). The Zecto is on my wife's bike so only gets used for very short trips but it seems a good be-seen-by light.

The others have been used for commuting etc in all weathers, the Power Drive (400L max) is on its 6th winter. The 800XL, bought with Micro Drive rear in summer 2017, and has been reliable so far.

I tried the Femto pair but I don't find them bright enough to rely on, even in well-lit streets.

If they're that reliable, I can't help but wonder why you have had 5 of them? 

Avatar
davel [2723 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
deanj wrote:

Maybe I just haven't had much luck with Lezyne, but my impression is that their lights look like they provide good value, but that they fall apart after not very long. I've had a MacroDrive which stopped working after not much more than a year, a rear Zecto which completely failed on a ride on unlit roads after a few weeks (so, potentially fatal), and more recently another MacroDrive has failed after less than a year. I'm not buying Lezyne again. I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences.

My Deca Drive is on its 3rd winter as my main commuting light. Needs charging after every ride (the commute is 1hr each way, in darkness at this time of year) but it hasn't missed a beat. The battery is replaceable but hasn't needed it, yet... 

It's a hefty unit and I had to get a replacement mounting kit after I lost a screw early on, but the light itself has been dropped more than once, used in all weather, covered in mud from off-roading... No problems. 

Avatar
Simon E [3844 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
madcarew wrote:

If they're that reliable, I can't help but wonder why you have had 5 of them? 

Apart from my wife's Zecto and the Mini that had a fault, each time it's because I have upgraded. The Mini XL is now a backup for the 800 on my good bike. Upgrade sent it when I complained about the issue with the original Mini. I found that it didn't have a wide enough beam for confident use on country lanes, especially in the wet, and sometimes needed charging daily so I bought a Power Drive, which is on the winter/wet weather bike (with a Fenix LD20 as backup).

I fit two lights through the dark months now because I have very occasionally forgotten to charge my light (the Power Drive has no charge level indicator) and run out half way home. That's no fun on a pitch-black country lane several miles from home.

I hope that's adequate. I wouldn't recommend them if I found them unreliable.

Avatar
mrml [50 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

My experience has been similar to deanj's. 

I have had various Lezyne front and rear lights that all seemed to significantly drop in their charge retention after a few months of use.  I have also had issues with weak connectors, failure of the charge display LEDs, and rubber bung covers too loose to stay on.  In one case, a rear light failed completely after just over 12 months.  The rest are still usable, just, but I think I persevered with the brand too long and I personally won't be buying their lights again.  

Avatar
JWL [10 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

The rubber bung falls off way too easily... in the car, bumped in the shed, nudged by a knee when riding, etc. Then you have a £5 replacement to make. I can’t believe that Lezyne haven’t fixed this (eg retaining string?) given that it’s a well known problem. Best avoid and buy from someone who builds more robust stuff, eg Exposure. 

Avatar
tugglesthegreat [127 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

I've got the Lezyne 400 and at full power it just abouts gets me home from my commute. They are good lights but need to last longer and be cheaper, there is no point in having a more powerful light if you can't use it.

I had to upgrade to a 1000 lumen light for 4400mAh battery for £47, from another manufaturer.  I can use this at half power all week and 1000 when off road.

Avatar
Simon E [3844 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
tugglesthegreat wrote:

I've got the Lezyne 400 and at full power it just abouts gets me home from my commute. They are good lights but need to last longer and be cheaper, there is no point in having a more powerful light if you can't use it.

Longer run times and cheaper? That sounds to me like wanting to have your cake and eat it.

Today I read some positive comments about Bikehut 1000 & 1600 lumen units (Halfords / Cycle Republic). They are currently on offer at £28 and £35 respectively, which seems extremely good value.

Avatar
tugglesthegreat [127 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:
tugglesthegreat wrote:

I've got the Lezyne 400 and at full power it just abouts gets me home from my commute. They are good lights but need to last longer and be cheaper, there is no point in having a more powerful light if you can't use it.

Longer run times and cheaper? That sounds like wanting to have your cake and eat it to me.

Today I read some positive comments about Bikehut 1000 & 1600 lumen units (Halfords / Cycle Republic). They are currently on offer at £28 and £35 respectively, which seems extremely good value.

I went for one of the chilli tech ones need to go on facebook to find there cheaper deal which is cheaper than their website:

https://www.chilli-tech.com/bike-lights

I went for the upgrade battery and enjoying having my cake and eating it. LOL

You need to look at the Amp hours to see the battery rating - how long it will last for.

 

 

Avatar
Simon E [3844 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
tugglesthegreat wrote:

I went for one of the chilli tech ones need to go on facebook to find there cheaper deal which is cheaper than their website:

https://www.chilli-tech.com/bike-lights

I went for the upgrade battery and enjoying having my cake and eating it. LOL

Sounds good smiley though they seem quite a bit more expensive than the Lezyne 400 lumen light.

tugglesthegreat wrote:

You need to look at the Amp hours to see the battery rating - how long it will last for.

or the published run times.

Avatar
bechdan [258 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

 

[/quote]

I went for one of the chilli tech ones need to go on facebook to find there cheaper deal which is cheaper than their website:

https://www.chilli-tech.com/bike-lights

I went for the upgrade battery and enjoying having my cake and eating it. LOL

You need to look at the Amp hours to see the battery rating - how long it will last for.

 

 

[/quote]

those look the same as ones on ebay you can get for much cheaper.

 

 

Avatar
cdamian [265 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
deanj wrote:

Maybe I just haven't had much luck with Lezyne

Not just you. I had two front lights (Deca) failing on me. With the first one it was the usb connection. The second one just stopped charging, probably something in the logic board.
It usually happens a few weeks after the warranty runs out  1

Rear lights also break after a while, but at least they are cheap enough not to worry about.

Currently I am using Cyclq Fly 12 + 6 CE, but I do miss the good illumination in the front.

It is a shame, because the Lezyne lights are pretty good until they just stop working.

Avatar
dottigirl [865 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
cdamian wrote:
deanj wrote:

Maybe I just haven't had much luck with Lezyne

Not just you. I had two front lights (Deca) failing on me. With the first one it was the usb connection. The second one just stopped charging, probably something in the logic board.
It usually happens a few weeks after the warranty runs out  1

Rear lights also break after a while, but at least they are cheap enough not to worry about.

Currently I am using Cyclq Fly 12 + 6 CE, but I do miss the good illumination in the front.

It is a shame, because the Lezyne lights are pretty good until they just stop working.

I have a barely-used-but-ex-show Deca which I'm currently deciding whether to buy a new battery (if I can find one) for, or buying a new light. The more I read, the more I'm looking around for something better...

(I'd be interested in buying your batteries if you still have them. Not sure how I would get them though as posting batteries is a bit iffy... )